Before we open at 8:00a.m., we gather for a brief prayer. To prepare for the day, including making job assignments, and to make time for prayer we ask volunteers to arrive at 7:45a.m. We also gather at the end of each morning at 11:30a.m. for prayer and reflection. We consider this time together after we close to be crucial to our practice of hospitality. During this time we encourage each other to share our experiences from the morning of offering hospitality, to examine how we may improve in our practice of hospitality, and to bring all that we have done to God in prayer.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Ways to contribute
Hospitality at Manna House revolves around two main areas: the clothing room and the frontporch/living room/dining room/backyard. A long-term volunteer guides the hospitality in each of the two areas. Other volunteers should rely upon the long-term volunteer for direction, and to answer any questions or to respond to problems that may arise. It is important for volunteers to work as a team that offers hospitality in ways consistent with the vision and practices of Manna House.
Please do not arrive at Manna House or seek to enter the house until 7:45am. Prior to that time those who have arrived early to begin the coffee and engage in other work seek time for reflection and prayer. When you arrive at 7:45am please seek out the person in charge for that day for work assignments. Also, please be ready to immediately join in some tasks necessary for opening. These typically include filling the sugar containers, setting out items necessary for serving coffee, preparing items in the clothing room, wiping off picnic tables in the backyard or setting up chairs in the front yard.
All volunteers gather for a short prayer at about 7:55am.
Persons offering hospitality in the clothing room area are responsible for offering showers, and sharing the hygiene and clothing items with guests who are signed up to receive these items. A volunteer will put the names of guests on two different lists. One list is for “socks and hygiene” and the other is for those who will shower. The person who “works the list” will begin signing up guests for the showers and clothing room before Manna House opens and also when the doors of Manna House open at 8:00a.m. The person working the list will also call the names of the guests in order and bring guests to the clothing room, telling the volunteers in the clothing room if the guest is there for a shower or for “socks and hygiene.” No guests should be in the clothing room if their name has not been called. Also, guests are not to re-enter the clothing room once they have been served.
Guests signed up for “socks and hygiene” may receive a shirt, socks, and hygiene items. We do not give out pants or underwear as these are reserved for persons who are showering. We do not have the resources to give out these items to everyone. Some hygiene items (such as deodorant) are only given out on specified Thursdays. Please respect these limitations. Although it is difficult to say “no” it is only in saying “no” to some needs that we are consistently able to say “yes” in meeting other needs. For the sake of the order needed to practice hospitality these limits are necessary.
On Mondays and Thursdays showers are offered for men. On Tuesdays, showers are offered for women. Guests sign-up for showers on the day previous to the day Manna House will be next open. Once a guest’s name has been called for the shower and he/she has been brought to the clothing room, other volunteers will assist the guest, giving him or her, a towel, wash cloth/face towel, razor, toothbrush, and assisting the guest in choosing clothes. Soap and shampoo are already in the showers. After guests shower and put on clean clothes, guests give us their dirty clothes. We launder these clothes and they are returned to the shelves of the clothing room to be used again.
There is also important work to be done in the “sorting room” which is at the back of the house. In this room donations are sorted and organized to be shared in the clothing room. Guests are not allowed in the sorting room. Shoes and coats are always stored in the clothing room. Shoes are given only to those on the shower list. Coats in the winter are given out at More on Monday, a meal served at Manna House each Monday beginning at 4pm.
Living room/dining room/backyard
Persons offering hospitality in the living room/dining room/front porch/backyard areas are responsible for serving coffee or other drinks. We strive to keep a steady supply of hot coffee ready for our guests, along with any other drinks we are serving. Persons working in this area of hospitality also need to attend to the sugar, creamer, and number of coffee cups to make sure there is a steady supply. We typically do not prepare or serve any food as this is not a type of hospitality we are equipped to provide during this time. We do, however, serve a meal on Mondays beginning at 4pm, and also on the third Thursday of each month at the monthly Foot Clinic.
In addition to preparing the coffee and maintaining the needed sugar, creamer and coffee cups, volunteers should attend to keeping these areas clean by picking up cups, cleaning the table, mopping up any spills, and emptying trash cans when full. It is also important to supervise the bathroom located off of the dining room, making sure it remains clean, and that guests who use the bathroom are using it for legitimate purposes.
Most importantly, volunteers working in these areas should engage in conversation with guests, getting to know them as persons. Please do not congregate in the kitchen, but enter into the living room/dining room/front porch/backyard areas to interact with our guests.
Closing Down, Reflecting, Praying, and Cleaning-up
At 11:15a.m., we begin to let our guests know that we will be closing soon by announcing “last call” for coffee. We ask our guests to begin leaving at 11:25a.m. so that we can close down and have time to reflect and pray before cleaning-up. By 11:30a.m. we seek to have all guests out of the house and/or the backyard. It is very important that all volunteers help to direct guests to prepare for closing, so ending conversations, games, haircuts, etc. should begin by 11:15am.
From 11:30a.m. to approximately noon., we gather to share our experiences from the morning’s work of hospitality, to reflect together, and to pray. This is a very important time for us to share experiences from the morning, to learn from each other’s experiences, and to gather our experiences up in prayer. Either before or following this time we turn to clean-up tasks: sweeping and mopping the living room and dining room, taking out trash, cleaning coffee pots, etc. We also clean the two bathrooms and the showers and sinks. Both bathrooms should also be mopped. Before leaving we need to make sure all windows are closed and locked, and all doors are locked.
Do's & Dont's
Do welcome each guest with dignity and grace.
Do engage in conversation with guests.
Do learn names and stories.
Do keep a sense of humor and a sense of compassion.
Do follow the leadership and direction of those experienced long-term volunteers running each area of hospitality.
Do ask questions.
Do be patient with yourself, with other volunteers and with guests.
Don’t give money if asked by a guest.
Don’t give rides to guests.
Don’t give out personal information such as phone number, address, etc. to guests.
Don’t lend your cell phone to guests.
Don’t use your cell phone unless absolutely necessary. Sitting playing games, searching the web, doing Facebook, etc. distract one from the practice of hospitality. If you must make a call or respond to a call do this in a room not frequented by guests.